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Suppose we have a Turing machine $M$ so that there is a constant $t$ such that the Turing machine always runs in time $t$ or less. Prove that the language of $M$ is regular.

This seems to be a pretty well-known fact, but despite my research, I cannot seem to find a proof of this anywhere. Does someone know of one?

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  • $\begingroup$ @YuvalFilmus It would have been easier to edit and fix it before you wrote an answer. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 11 '14 at 9:26
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Hint: If the machine runs in time $t$ on all inputs then its decision only depends on the first $t$ symbols of the input.

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  • $\begingroup$ So if M accepts only strings of length t or less, then it is a finite language and we are done. Otherwise, M accepts a string of length greater than t. Since the machine runs in time t or less, its decision only depends on the first t symbols. So we can express the language by the regex w1|...|wk|w1sigma*|...|wksigma*, where w1 through wk are all the strings that M accepts with length t or less (here, sigma is the given alphabet). Is this correct? $\endgroup$ – user3000877 Nov 11 '14 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ Right, that's the idea, though you might have to mix your two types. $\endgroup$ – Yuval Filmus Nov 11 '14 at 6:15

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